Incense Fireworks


Can’t recall if I have ever mentioned senkouhanabi (線香花火), so just a little mention here. Senkou means incense, specifically it refers to the long stick variety of incense – not the cone shaped variety. Hanabi means fireworks.

Senkouhanabi are listed in my dictionary as sparklers, but they are far more spectacular than that. They are like holding your own miniature fireworks show between your thumb and forefinger. You start with something about the same dimensions as a stick of incense, dangle it steadily below your hand, and light it up. At first it glows brightly, then as it diminishes the real show kicks in.

Minuscule flower bursts come spurting out from the firework. They are formed from unbelievably faint lines. The more steady you hold it, the longer the show lasts. When the glowing bead at the end falls, the show is over. Another clever and fascinating invention. We can now buy very cheap ones from China, but they also tend to burn away too quick.


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